Martin Pienaar sees demand for business analysis skills rapidly increasing, and urges new efforts in growing business analyst talent for the digital world.
Martin Pienaar, COO of Mindworx, is a strategic thinker, a natural problem-solver and brings an open-minded approach to finding new ways to improve education in South Africa, making it more relevant to the local reality.
Martin’s deep interest in transformation led to the creation of the innovative Mindworx Academy. Coupling his passions for education and community service, Mindworx Academy addresses two of South Africa’s most pressing problems: high unemployment rates and a significant skills gap within employers.
Congratulations on your recent talk at the Business Analysis Summit Southern Africa, it was well received by many. For those who weren’t fortunate to attend, could you give us a synopsis of what your presentation was about?
Thank you. I explained some reasons why there would be an increase in demand for business analysis and other skills as a result of the digitisation of businesses. Around the world
… there is a concern about the calibre of graduate coming out of the university system. A main concern is that these graduates don’t have the skills to perform in a modern, services based economy.
As a result, we have had to find ways of assessing high potential graduates and preparing them for this work.
The topic is clearly an area that you are personally passionate about. Why do you feel this subject is relevant and important for the business analysis profession?
In part, I am passionate about this because I think that business analysts have an important role to play when it comes to digitising businesses, to make or keep them successful.
A bigger issue, though, is the huge unemployment problem in South Africa. In this pool of unemployed youth are many high-potential gems with the propensity to learn quickly and employ advanced analytical skills, …
who could be adding value in the workplace; I want to get them working!
Having shared your ideas with the business analysis community. What key points would you like people to take-away, reflect and act upon?
As business people and entrepreneurs, it is vital that we stop only using matric or university results as a proxy for future performance. Just look at how many millionaires today did not complete university – and most of them had the luxury of escaping the challenges of an emerging economy.
We have tests that can measure fluid learning, attention to detail, problem solving skills, and many other attributes which are much better predictors of success.
While many organisations default to their old ways, these policies have become out of date and alternative pools need to be considered for sourcing talent in South Africa.
Business analysis summit spoiled in terms of the learning and networking opportunities. What was your greatest personal insight taken from the business analysis conference?
Nothing beats being in an environment of like-minded professionals who can share ideas and learn. The quality of speakers and the exhibits by companies working in the business analysis industry was a great step up from previous years.
This profession is really coming of age now, and for the first time I feel like the business analyst community is becoming just such a profession.
I have been a chartered accountant for many years and so I know what it feels like to be part of an established profession.
Having been a regular speaker at local business analysis events. What words of encouragement do you have for people who may be considering presenting in future?
I think “death by Powerpoint” has become a theme at many conferences and it’s very frustrating for the audience. Nothing is worse than a speaker reading his or her slides to an audience. I think
… it’s important to bring fresh and interesting material each time and build on previous presentations by expanding on points made previously, or placing a different emphasis on key points.
Audiences always want the talk to be a success and will be supportive if the topic is interesting and well presented.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would really like to encourage all business analysts to take a lead role in ensuring their companies remain competitive by digitising their systems and processes and playing a role in creating satisfying user experiences. While doing so,
… taking young business analysts from disadvantaged backgrounds under their wings and imparting skills and experience will help to make our country competitive on an international stage,
will reduce inequality and broaden the talent pool.
Download Martin Pienaar‘s slide-deck from BA Summit SA 2016 to get more guidance on training from Growing Business Analyst Talent For The Digital World. What do you think of growing business analyst talent? Let @MartinPienaar and @Newbert know your thoughts over on Twitter.